Travel bans
(Constantine Johnny, Getty)
  • South Africa's travel rules were updated on Thursday, in part to clean up provisions that had related to the red listing of countries for tourism.
  • There are also changes for younger travellers to South Africa: children under five are no longer required to wear masks on planes, and kids may be exempt from pre-departure testing.
  • All terminal buildings have also been re-opened, so you can meet someone inside, or help them with their luggage – or perhaps even have a coffee.
  • International Passenger charters are now allowed for secondary airports
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South Africa has newly updated rules on international travel amid the coronavirus pandemic – and they may make life just a little easier for those with children, or a lot of luggage.

A package of amendments to regulations scrapped some holdovers from now-defunct regimes, such as a system through which business travellers from countries red-listed for tourism could ask to be let into SA. Other changes sought to clarify the treatment of cross-border truck drivers, as well as teachers and students who commute into South Africa every day.

Two rules around children entering South Africa were also changed. A previous exemption from wearing masks aboard planes for children up to two was extended to the age of five, meaning pre-schoolers no longer have to be forced or cajoled into face masks.

Children may also no longer need to have swabs stuck up their noses.

As of Thursday, "a child or person with disabilities may be exempted from Covid-19 testing if testing will prove to be a challenge," the new rules hold, "provided that operators must consult local public health authorities to confirm the requirement prior to departure".

Meanwhile, a set of provisions that barred access to airport terminals was dropped. At the end of May those terminals were closed to everyone except employees, diplomatic agents, crew and passengers, with drop off and pickup specifically allowed only outside terminal buildings.

With those provisions deleted, anyone may now enter airports such as OR Tambo or Cape Town International again, be it to help with luggage or to use the shops and restaurants in general-access areas of airports that have resembled ghost towns for much of the day.

That also applies to smaller, secondary airports – which as of Thursday may accept passenger charter flights again, rather than only cargo flights.

They are:

  • Lanseria
  • Bram Fischer
  • Kruger Mpumalanga
  • Polokwane
  • Port Elizabeth
  • Upington

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